Israeli military indicts soldier for Gaza killing

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Israel has indicted a military sharpshooter for manslaughter for shooting dead a Palestinian who walked with a group waving a white flag during a war in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip last year, the army says.

It was the most serious charge against an Israeli soldier for actions carried out during the three-week offensive begun on December 27, 2008 in which some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. “The Military Advocate General has decided to indict a number of officers and soldiers for their conduct during the (Gaza) operation,” the military’s statement said.

The soldier, who holds the rank of staff sergeant and was not identified, will face a military tribunal.
“This decision (to indict) is based on evidence that the soldier, who was serving as a designated marksman, deliberately targeted an individual walking with a group of people waving a white flag without being ordered or authorised to do so,” the statement read.

The statement said soldiers had testified that a man had been shot and killed. Palestinians had given evidence that two women were killed in the same incident, but this could not be corroborated, it said. Last September, a United Nations commission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone found that Israeli troops and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip had committed war crimes.

Israel boycotted Goldstone’s investigation and said his report was unbalanced. It cited the difficulty of battling Palestinian militants operating in heavily populated civilian areas in its operation to stop cross-border rocket fire.

Tuesday’s statement detailed three other incidents in which soldiers and officers, including one holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel, had been charged and would face either criminal or disciplinary charges. The military said that over 150 incidents during the Gaza war were examined and that nearly 50 investigations had been launched.

In March, Israel’s military indicted two soldiers for endangering the life of a Palestinian boy during the Gaza offensive. If convicted, they could face up to three years in jail, a military official said.



Pic: Israeli Merkava main battle tanks outside Gaza